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Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 14 comments

Pursuing Unfinished Thoughts

 

Head in Hands

 

Every so often, I’m afflicted with “writer’s block.”

From what I hear among other writers, this is fairly a common condition.  One cannot write consistently for several years without faithfully going to the well and occasionally coming up with an empty pail.  Sometimes, the source runs dry.

“Writer’s block” is mental state.  It’s debilitating and can even be depressing — especially to a writer!  It’s like trying to speak, only the words won’t come out.  Call it a literary stutter.

My past bouts with writer’s block were almost always sprung by a bombardment of way too many thoughts all at once.  It’s not as though there’s nothing to write about.  To the contrary — I always find there’s far too much out there that interests me — including things that make me go ballistic, or provide tremendous joy (and everything in-between).  Most writers like to share their discoveries, experiences, and emotions, and I’m no exception.

I woke up this morning as I do most days not knowing what would be the topic du jour.  And so, I sat down at my desk and began writing various headlines, then a paragraph or two, but nothing flowed naturally.  When the words aren’t there, it’s usually best to take a beak, or move on to something else.  However, sometimes the issue is so pressing and there’s a certain timeliness to the subject matter that a force of willpower is required.  Today will be one of those days.

My draft inbox currently shows 353 unpublished articles, most of which are a mix of meandering thoughts and immature ideas which didn’t bear artistic fruit.  These were articles that might have become something really interesting had they been properly nourished.  But then, the phone rang.  Or, I had a headache.  Or, I had to leave town.  Or, I just lost interest.  So, they just sit there all gathering microcosmic dust on some technical cloud waiting to be rediscovered, and completed perhaps.  I now wonder — is there’s any value to pursuing an unfinished thought?  Seems like reheating leftovers, to me.

Forgive the comparison, but to me it’s a bit like being interrupted during sex.  I’m not quite sure you can go back where you were and finish the job.  Better to start all over again with fresh sheets.

What I’ll do here and now is publish the working titles of several unpublished and/or unfinished drafts.  I’d be curious to know which, if any, of these articles might interest readers.  Feel free to post in the comments section or on Facebook.  Otherwise, I’ll probably trash most of the clutter.  Listed in reverse chronological order, here’s my draft inbox, along with a short description of each item:

 

“The Latest Chapter in Poker’s Evolution”….the state of poker entering 2016

“The Death of Rational Thought”….addresses our collective unwillingness to examine evidence impartially

“What the Fuck Happened to Robert DeNiro?”…..wonders what happened to the career of one of our best movie actors who now seems to make nothing but shitty movies

“The Things Robert Bonner Taught Me”…..how a New York Times foreign correspondent in El Salvador that I met 30 years ago changed my life and helped to shape my politics

“Sister Rosette Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock n’ Roll”….profiles one of rock’s least-known pioneers

“Auto Racing is Not a Sport!”….sure to piss off lots of people and could generate a few death threats

“Adolf Trump: Creating a National Furor“….odd comparisons between the rise of Trump and fascism in Nazi Germany (didn’t feel comfortable with making light of something far too serious in human history)

“Van Morrison’s Ten Best Love Songs”….self explanatory

“The Lottery is a National Ass Fuck”….this one was a riot to compose, but I decided not to publish because my views on the lottery are already widely known

“The $188,000 Bill”….about what happened to the old $1 million cash display at old Binion’s Horseshoe

“A Book Every Man Should Read:  ‘My Life on the Road’ by Gloria Steinem“….book review of the autobiography of America’s most noted feminist

“What’s the Matter with Kids Today?”….who made kids who they are?  The answer should’t surprise you

“Meet the LINOs — Liberals in Name Only”….attacks phony liberals who talk a good game but refuse to support truly progressive ideas

“Do You Believe in UFOs?”….a long article (several thousand words) on the question of how to explain all the UFO sightings

“Destroying the Myth that Tough Gun Laws Don’t Work“….evidence-based article showing that gun laws do reduce acts of violence

“Comedy Deconstructed:  What Wendy Liebman Can Teach Gavin Smith”….a very early critique of the Gavin Smith’s potential transformation into comedy

“Who is Going to be Humanity’s Next Super-Villain?”….we always seem to need bad guys — why?

“My Opinion on the Syrian Refugee Crisis and Whether or Not to Accept Them into the U.S.“….solid basis of an article, but I wasn’t satisfied with it

“The Madness of Fremont Street”….a rant about the obnoxious street performers downtown who need to be vaporized

“Ten People in America We Want to Punch Out”….this was fun as hell to write, but decided not to publish

“MGM Grand’s Greed and Stupidity Sink to New Lows”….written two months ago when rumors began circulating about charging for parking (then it happened)

“Warning!  Do Not Stay at this Shitty Howard Johnsons!”….my hotel room flooded and I wrote this up (decided to not publish because no one would believe it was true, but it was!)

“Misguided Sanctimony on Full Display at the American Gaming Association”….calling out the AGA and their hypocrisy on its supposed efforts to stamp out “illegal gambling”

“What Daniel Patrick Moynihan Can (Still) Teach Us”….an expose on the legacy of one of America’s greatest senators, who was one of the father of the liberal social and economic agenda and who had some very controversial opinions on race

“Is Bill O’Reilly a Plagiarist?”….I think so.  This fraud of an author gets exposed in a riveting criticism of his bullshit books

“Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers:  A Review”….review of the show at Wynn Las Vegas

“Wanted:  100,000,000 Stones!  Quick!”….an blistering article on religion citing the Bible’s verse on stoning those who commit adultery (in relation to the Ashley Madison scandal)

“An Amazing Poker Summer:  Thank You”….between the WSOP and “Poker Night in America,” I had an amazing summer.  Never published.

“Writers Who Inspired Me:  Molly Ivins”….my personal encounters with and letters from the writer-satirist late Molly Ivins of the now defunct Dallas Times Herald.

“Suits’ is the Best Show on Television“….I’m a big fan of this show, a legal drama now entering what could be its final season.

“Ten Things Waiters Do that Drive Me Crazy”….I’ve written far too many critical pieces of service people, so I shelved this even though it’s pretty funny

“Ten Albums I Wore Out”….a look back on various musical crossroads in my life, with explanations as to why I connected with them (YMMV)

“A War I Will Support”….write this after seeing another fuckwad going over to Africa to shoot wild animals.  I’d like to see those creeps sent to the front lines in Afghanistan, and hope they don’t come home

“Poker’s Longest Night:  Remembering Chip Reese’s Final Victory”….one of the most incredible nights I’ve ever experienced, both in terms of poker and professionally speaking (for a number of reasons) — I’ll probably post this sometime

“The Good Vibrations of ‘Love and Mercy”….movie review of the bio-epic on Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, played by John Cusack

“My First Paintball Experience”….I played paintball last year while on assignment in Florida with “Poker Night in America.”  Didn’t publish this for some reason

“Texas Legislature to Teens:  Stop Fucking”….rant against the Texas State Legislature which last year decided to fund so-called “abstinence” programs while trying to pull the plug on Planned Parenthood

“The Cult of Crackpots Who Call Themselves Scientologists”….wrote this rant up after watching a thorough destruction of the cult known as Scientology in the award-winning HBO special, which aired last year

“Is a Pint of Guinness More Popular than Jesus?”….written on plane back from Dublin, Ireland last year, after seeing packed pubs and mostly empty churches

“The Emperor of All Maladies”….extraordinary book on the history of cancer and medicine’s attempts to find a cure — my book review (book reviews get the fewest hits at my site — so demoralized, I shelved this)

“The Worst Buffets in Las Vegas”….funny piece, but probably too dated now

“This is What I Expect from My Slave”….the Bible says it’s okay to own and even punish slaves, so I thought it would be fun to make of list of what I expect if I can somehow get to own one

“Storming the Communist Palace”….my experiences on Revolution Day in Bucharest, Romania on Dec. 22, 1989 when Nicolae Ceausescu fled from the rooftop while thousands stormed the building (I among them)

“It Can’t Happen Here? (How Adm. Hyman Rickover, Edward Snowden, and the CIA Torture Report Corroborate America’s Shift to the Dark Side)”….an indictment of America’s fall from moral grace

“Nolan Dalla’s Shit List”….updating the many, many things that drive me crazy

 

Well, that’s about one-third of the inventory of what’s available (everything above is 2015 to present).  I still have quite a few more drafts in the unpublished folder besides what’s posted here (all dating between 2012-2014).  Unfortunately, many articles are now too dated to be interesting.  Those will likely be discarded.

If anything on this list stands out, let me know and I might be inspired to finish it.

Thanks for reading.

 

Note:  I’d appreciate any donations at this time.  I’d like to pay my webmaster for keeping this running and bug free for more than 3 years.  Time to send him another check.  Any donation you send will be welcome, but twenties and fifties are REALLY appreciated.

14 Comments

  1. Okay Nolan, you asked for comments. Here are my top dozen picks (though not necessarily in this order) from your list above that I would love to have you complete:
    “The Things Robert Bonner Taught Me”…..how a New York Times foreign correspondent in El Salvador that I met 30 years ago changed my life and helped to shape my politics

    “The $188,000 Bill”….about what happened to the old $1 million cash display at old Binion’s Horseshoe

    “What’s the Matter with Kids Today?”….who made kids who they are? The answer should’t surprise you

    “Meet the LINOs — Liberals in Name Only”….attacks phony liberals who talk a good game but refuse to support truly progressive ideas

    “Ten People in America We Want to Punch Out”….this was fun as hell to write, but decided not to publish

    “MGM Grand’s Greed and Stupidity Sink to New Lows”….written two months ago when rumors began circulating about charging for parking (then it happened)

    “An Amazing Poker Summer: Thank You”….between the WSOP and “Poker Night in America,” I had an amazing summer. Never published.

    “Writers Who Inspired Me: Molly Ivins”….my personal encounters with and letters from the writer-satirist late Molly Ivins of the now defunct Dallas Times Herald.

    “Poker’s Longest Night: Remembering Chip Reese’s Final Victory”….one of the most incredible nights I’ve ever experienced, both in terms of poker and professionally speaking (for a number of reasons) — I’ll probably post this sometime

    “My First Paintball Experience”….I played paintball last year while on assignment in Florida with “Poker Night in America.” Didn’t publish this for some reason

    “Texas Legislature to Teens: Stop Fucking”….rant against the Texas State Legislature which last year decided to fund so-called “abstinence” programs while trying to pull the plug on Planned Parenthood

    “Nolan Dalla’s Shit List”….updating the many, many things that drive me crazy

    After reading my list above, I’ve come to the conclusion that I might be shallow.:)Of course, I love reading anything you write!

  2. Here’s my list. BTW, I am amazed at how your mind works, even when it’s not “working.”

    “Texas Legislature to Teens: Stop Fucking”
    “Writers Who Inspired Me: Molly Ivins”
    “The $188,000 Bill”
    “Poker’s Longest Night: Remembering Chip Reese’s Final Victory”
    “Wanted: 100,000,000 Stones! Quick!”

    I mean, I’d read ’em all, but still…

  3. I was sitting in a poker tournament at the Beau when the man next to me asked whether he or Donald Trump sounded sounded more like a New Yorker. I responded that I tried my best to never hear anything Trump said. He turned quickly to me and said “You must be the only old white guy in the room who thinks like that.”

    Despite being raised in a small town in the south, I was blessed by a mother, father and now a wife of 51 years who made sure my head stayed screwed on fairly straight. My wife refuses to listen to my poker stories but will (occasionally) discuss and even reads a Nolan Dalla blog entry.

    I am amazed that an (excuse the term) old(ish) white guy in your profession could develop/maintain and publish your political/life philosophy.

    Therefore my selection of a blog you should complete –

    “The Things Robert Bonner Taught Me”…..how a New York Times foreign correspondent in El Salvador that I met 30 years ago changed my life and helped to shape my politics

    Tom

  4. Pretty much always enjoy your writings, even when I don’t agree with your point of view. Found you through sports betting, but staying for your well written articles and thoughtful views.

    With respect, my list of “need to complete” (in no special order)

    “What the Fuck Happened to Robert DeNiro?”
    “Auto Racing is Not a Sport!”
    “Adolf Trump: Creating a National Furor“
    “What’s the Matter with Kids Today?”
    “Do You Believe in UFOs?”
    “Destroying the Myth that Tough Gun Laws Don’t Work“
    “My Opinion on the Syrian Refugee Crisis and Whether or Not to Accept Them into the U.S.“
    “Ten People in America We Want to Punch Out”
    “Wanted: 100,000,000 Stones! Quick!”…
    “Ten Things Waiters Do that Drive Me Crazy”
    “A War I Will Support”…
    “The Good Vibrations of ‘Love and Mercy”
    “The Cult of Crackpots Who Call Themselves Scientologists”
    “This is What I Expect from My Slave”

    Thanks!

  5. Anything about music ,thorpe, albums, article on linos which is appropriate in this election cycle. Anything about the Romanian revolution (I have a cousin by marriage who went to school with ceausescu’s son . My cousin and his family were ransomed out by the United Jewish Appeal fie 5k to 10k each I think.

  6. I would be interested in your information and thoughts about Daniel Patrick Moynihan. I have only heard his name.

    I really enjoy your contributions on subjects that interest me. They have helped me grow.

    When I get “writers block”, or “burn out”, I go enjoy Nature, or work on a hands on project. It usually doesn’t take long before I start thinking of things to write.

  7. Have you considered ‘Dueling Voices’

    I’m sure several, if not many, of your writer readers have thoughts on many of these topics. It would be intriguing to see, read and hear your thoughts, rants, ponderings up against other voices that you respect. You could call it your weekly ‘Rant vs. Rant’

    • Nolan Replies:

      Interesting. Let me ponder this. I like the idea of it.

      — ND

  8. Hey Nolan,

    I went thru the list several times and would read most of them. The ones that I’d read the quickest were, in no particular odder:

    The Latest Chapter in Poker’s Evolution”….the state of poker entering 2016

    “What the Fuck Happened to Robert DeNiro?”…..wonders what happened to the career of one of our best movie actors

    “Sister Rosette Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock n’ Roll”….profiles one of rock’s least-known pioneers

    “The Lottery is a National Ass Fuck”….this one was a riot to compose, but I decided not to publish because my views on the lottery are already widely known

    “A Book Every Man Should Read: ‘My Life on the Road’ by Gloria Steinem”….book review of the autobiography of America’s most noted feminist

    “What’s the Matter with Kids Today?”….who made kids who they are? The answer should’t surprise you

    “Destroying the Myth that Tough Gun Laws Don’t Work”….evidence-based article showing that gun laws do reduce acts of violence

    “Comedy Deconstructed: What Wendy Liebman Can Teach Gavin Smith”….a very early critique of the Gavin Smith’s potential transformation into comedy

    “My Opinion on the Syrian Refugee Crisis and Whether or Not to Accept Them into the U.S.”….solid basis of an article, but I wasn’t satisfied with it

    “The Madness of Fremont Street”….a rant about the obnoxious street performers downtown who are need to be vaporized

    “Ten People in America We Want to Punch Out”….this was fun as hell to write, but decided not to publish

    “MGM Grand’s Greed and Stupidity Sink to New Lows”….written two months ago when rumors began circulating about charging for parking (then it happened)

    “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers: A Review”….review of the show at Wynn Las Vegas

    “Ten Things Waiters Do that Drive Me Crazy”….I’ve written far too many critical pieces of service people, so I shelved this even though it’s pretty funny

    “Poker’s Longest Night: Remembering Chip Reese’s Final Victory”….one of the most incredible nights I’ve ever experienced, both in terms of poker and professionally speaking (for a number of reasons) — I’ll probably post this sometime

    “The Good Vibrations of ‘Love and Mercy”….movie review of the bio-epic on Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, played by John Cusack

    “Texas Legislature to Teens: Stop Fucking”….rant against the Texas State Legislature which last year decided to fund so-called “abstinence” programs while trying to pull the plug on Planned Parenthood

    “The Cult of Crackpots Who Call Themselves Scientologists”….wrote this rant up after watching a thorough destruction of the cult known as Scientology in the award-winning HBO special, which aired last year

    “Storming the Communist Palace”….my experiences on Revolution Day in Bucharest, Romania on Dec. 22, 1989 when Nicolae Ceausescu fled from the rooftop while thousands stormed the building (I among them)

    “Nolan Dalla’s Shit List”….updating the many, many things that drive me crazy

  9. You piss me off Nolan…I read the list , wtf?? I can’t find one on there I wouldn’t stop what I was doing and read…” Hey take a taste of this cab..” Then walk away with the bottle…come on…. Let it flow…

  10. keenan – ditto, and who says you can only publish once a day? and who says they cant be short? we need fodder for thought! stop being stingy!

  11. “Ten Things Waiters Do that Drive Me Crazy”
    Personally, my number 1, the numerous waitresses who say ‘awesome’ to my order of a diet coke with lemon no ice. Really? what is awesome? my ability to order without pointing at the children’s menu or just the ability of a senior to stay awake long enough to order.
    Nolan Dalla’s Shit List
    The Madness of Fremont Street.
    The Latest Chapter in Poker’s Evolution“
    The Lottery is a National Ass Fuck”
    “Comedy Deconstructed: What Wendy Liebman Can Teach Gavin Smith”….

  12. Robert DeNiro.

  13. I have a friend (Frank Stewart) who writes a nationally syndicated bridge column. I asked him once if he ever gets writer’s block. He said no, writer’s block leads to paycheck block.

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